World

Olympics Draw Near, Experts Urge Officials to Cancel the Event

As more news about the mosquito-borne illness the Zika virus hits headlines, all eyes are turning to Brazil, home of Rio Janeiro, host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The Zika virus is at the the center of everyone’s thoughts about the event, and now a group of individuals have posted an open letter urging against the event, calling it a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”

Experts compromised of more than 100 physicians, scientists and bioethicists have posted the letter directed at World Health Organization’s Director General Margaret Chan. The contents of the letter urge Chan to pressure the Olympics authorities and organizers to consider the implications of the Zika virus on the Olympics, and the audience attending the event. The experts propose the solution to the potential health crisis is to either move the Olympics or delay the games until the mosquito population is under control in Brazil. The letter signers come from a more than 12 countries, with individuals from South Africa, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Sweden and Isreal. The letter was posted on a website created for the plea, located at RioOlympicsLater.org and counts among its signers professors from around the world, and Dr. Phillip Rubin, Retired Principal Assistant Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the President of the United States.

The experts want the World Health Organization to convene a group of independent advisors to speak to the WHO and the International Olympic Committee to reconsider the Olympics events in the midst of the public health crisis. The Zika virus in Brazil is particularly harmful, and can cause Brazilian viral strain causes microephaly and possibly other neurological injuries. and the experts warn against exposing an audience of 500,000 from around the world. The fear is that spectators will acquire the Brazilian strain of Zika, and bring it to their own home country.  Rio de Janeiro currently has the second-highest number of probably Zika cases, and fourth-highest incidence rate, reports the letter.

The letter isn’t the first plea to reconsider holding the Olympics as scheduled, as some of the letter signers have been publishing papers against the event as well. Those attached to the plea also point out that the 2003 Women’s World Cup event was moved from China to the USA out of concerns regarding SARS. The World Health Organization has rejected the experts’ plea, saying, “Based on the current assessment of the Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or canceling the Games.”

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Rio de Janiero and the Olympics aren’t the only focus when it comes to the Zika virus. Recently health experts have warned against traveling to places like Disney World or other popular tourist destinations if individuals are expecting or planning to try to get pregnant, because of the virus’ severe fetal birth defects. According to the CDC, there have been 591 travel-asssociated Zika virus cases reported in the United States, 11 of which were sexually-transmitted.  There are travel-associated 4 reported cases in U.S. territories, and 935 locally-acquired cases reported.

7 Comments

  1. green says:

    this is nuts. cancel.

    • Jakarta says:

      Don’t you feel bad for athletes though?

  2. Do or not do says:

    that’s why they need to move it somewhere else. London just hosted so move there

  3. Scary. just move it to london or beijing even if it gets pushed back 1 month.

  4. G34 says:

    I’d like to know how the IOC and brazil justify ignoring this recommendation???

  5. sry30 says:

    Brazil is a hot mess right now> would not want to go

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